Parents protest over possible redundancy of special needs tutor at St Neots school

Gillian Henegan and her son Lewis. Gillian Henegan and her son Lewis.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
7:00 AM

Parents gathered outside a St Neots school on Monday to protest against the possibility their children may lose a special needs tutor in a wave of job cuts.

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Ernulf Academy headteacher Scott Preston assured parents the school would continue to “support all of the students with their individual needs” should alternative curriculum tutor Louise Skinner be made redundant following a hearing on Friday.

If she does lose her job, her role will be absorbed by the remainder of the special education needs team at the school.

Mr Preston said the school would work with parents to identify the most appropriate programme suitable for each student.

The uncertainty over Mrs Skinner’s future at the school follows a countywide funding issue which has seen Ernulf Academy left with a £600,000 budget shortfall for the next academic year.

At the last redundancy hearing for teaching staff, 11 positions were lost with staff who have not accepted positions elsewhere opting for voluntary redundancy. Redundancies are still possible for support staff and cleaners.

Mr Preston said despite her 27 years of experience, Mrs Skinner is an unqualified teacher, which put her job at risk before qualified colleagues.

He said: “The curriculum area Mrs Skinner works within has been getting smaller and smaller over the past few years and the curriculum she currently delivers needs to be looked at being delivered in a different way.

“The process of staff reduction in any organisation is not something that any manager wants to do, especially for good people like Louise. This is just a symptom of the unfair funding that we have in Cambridgeshire.”

He explained that while Mrs Skinner once had 15-20 students, there were now fewer than 10 pupils in the scheme.

Gillian Henegan, 51, of Marchioness Way, Eaton Socon, whose 14-year-old son Lewis is taught by Mrs Skinner, said: “I’m disgusted after everything we’ve done with the petition and the protest, and they don’t seem to be listening.

“It’s really worrying Lewis, he’s not sleeping properly and I’m sure a lot of other children are the same.”

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